How to occupy refugees who find themselves most of the time idle in their host country? How to ensure both quantity and quality food for them? These are the questions that led Liz Ahua Kpam to visit Songhai Regional Centre in Porto Novo on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 during her mission in Benin. It was an opportunity for the Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in West Africa to discover the Centre and exchange with officials about her various concerns.

“We have a lot of refugees and most of them are not very busy. Also, many of them have background in agriculture; some are nomads with herds of cows, etc. We need to occupy some and help others grow their business”, said Liz Ahua Kpam, during her visit to Songhai. Very impressed by the various activities of the Centre and how they are interrelated, the Regional Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for West Africa sees in Songhai the solution to her desire to help refugees. A replication of this center, even ”partly” on the territories occupied by refugees, would help achieve her goals, she said.

The UNHCR regional representative for West Africa is already planning to return to Porto-Novo with representatives of the 15 countries she supervises on the continent, so that they can “experience what she has experienced” in Songhai. The second step will be to identify the strategy to be used to train the refugees. This step is particularly important as most refugees are illiterate and speak neither French nor English. However, Liz Kpam Ahua is returning to the Regional office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in West Africa – based in Dakar, Senegal – confident that together with Songhai Centre and its representation, a solution will be found.


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